Steven Universe Rewind: Reformed

Spoiler Policy: All spoilers up to and including the currently discussed episode will be unmarked. Spoilers for episodes beyond the current point will be enclosed in Future Vision blocks, which will include spoilers for the entire series.

Official Description: Steven, Amethyst and Garnet chase after a monster that’s been loose in the Temple.

The episode opens with Pearl and Greg on the beach, fixing Greg’s van from the damage it sustained in The Return. Presumably, Pearl has become more comfortable with repairing the van after she learned how to do so in House Guest.

Steven is sitting nearby, taking a personality quiz that tells you which Crying Breakfast Friend you are. Steven is, apparently, Sniffling Croissant. Steven tries to get Pearl and Greg to take the quiz, but they’re not very interested. In a bit of metahumor, he comments that it’s fun to see yourself as cartoon character.

Steven compares Pearl to Weeping Eggcup, “who is neurotic and uptight,” and Greg to Pining Grapefruit, “the sensitive older one who wishes he were a better role model.” Way to cut them to their core, Steven. Unable to get Pearl and Greg interested, Steven runs off to find someone else.

Pearl: Do you understand that cartoon show?

Greg: I don’t understand anything any more.

This is a cute and rare moment of bonding between Pearl and Greg. Pearl still resents Greg for taking Rose away, and we know that Greg is uneasy around the Gems. The one thing they have in common is caring for Steven.

Future Vision

In Mr. Greg, Steven uses this fact to get Pearl and Greg to finally reconcile, and from then on they’re on better terms.

[collapse]

This bit also speaks to how Greg feels adrift and uncertain after the events of The Return and Jail Break, fearful that his son is in too much danger.

In the house, Amethyst is raiding the fridge for food. She asks Steven if he has any engine oil that she can put on her sandwich. You have to wonder how Gem tastes work…

Steven tries to get Amethyst to take the Crying Breakfast Friends quiz. In another bit of metahumor, Amethyst asks, “Who wants to watch a cartoon about people crying?”

Steven’s eyes are watery as he says, “I do!” At this point we’re post Lion 3 and Rose’s Scabbard and the show already has a reputation for bringing on the waterworks.

Amethyst decides to humor Steven by taking the quiz. “Do you ever act without thinking?” he asks.

“Nope, never,” she says as she squeezes a mustard bottle until it explodes all over her food.

“Are you afraid of taking new risks and trying new things?”

“Terrified!” This is intended as a joke because Amethyst is both the risk taker of the group and the one who is most interested in trying out human culture, but it’s possible she’s actually being honest. One can enjoy trying new things and still be low-key terrified of it, and we have some evidence that change scares Amethyst and that she retreats into the familiar (for example, going back to the kindergarten, or watching marathons of Lil Butler after Rose’s death.)

Steven, annoyed, asks if Amethyst is taking this seriously, which turns out to actually be the next question on the quiz.

“Are you insecure about your relationships and how you’re perceived by other people?” This question visibly distresses Amethyst, as seen in her face above. This is really the core of Amethyst’s whole character arc, as we’ve seen before in episodes like Tiger Millionaire and On the Run, where she pretends to not care what the other Gems think about her even though she clearly does.

“No. Yes? What’s the right answer?” Amethyst basically proves her insecurity by not being able to simply answer this question for herself.

Amethyst walks away, despite Steven’s protests that he has more probing personal questions to ask her. She’s surprised to find Garnet in her room.

Garnet was in Amethyst’s room chasing a corrupted Gem, one that matches the description of the “Slinker” that Pearl recently saw. “I thought we agreed that there was no Slinker, and that we weren’t going to call it ‘The Slinker,'” says Amethyst. This corrupted Gem did not appear in any previous episode. Garnet points out that the creature definitely exists and that Steven’s name stuck.

Amethyst doesn’t want Garnet in her room, and asks why she can’t look for the creature herself. “Because you won’t,” says Garnet bluntly. This lack of faith in her is certainly not going to help with her already surfacing insecurities.

Garnet picks up a huge pile of junk to reveal one of the holes the Slinker made. Amethyst playfully puts on a gas mask, then pulls out a human skull — “Look, there’s a prize inside!” Dark, Amethyst.

Steven compares Garnet to Crying Breakfast Friend Spilled Milk — “stern, but practical.”

Steven has another quiz question for Amethyst: “Do you get defensive when people ask you questions about the feelings you prefer to keep hidden?” Amethyst, of course, gets defensive.

Garnet spots the monster and shoots her gauntlets at it, but fails to hit it. It’s interesting that she effectively loses her hands when she shoots her gauntlets — none of the other Gem weapons work that way. You can see the gemstones that normally sit on the palms of her hands on her wrist stumps here.

Amethyst complains that Garnet is wrecking her stuff and that she should be the one to wreck it. As she kicks over a pile of junk, she’s caught by tentacles that squeeze her until she poofs (which seems to be one of the most efficient ways to poof a Gem, incidentally.) This is the first time we’ve seen Amethyst poofed.

Steven is very upset by this, even though Garnet reassures him that Amethyst will be fine. He remembers that Pearl took two whole weeks to regenerate (back in Steven the Sword Fighter), and it’s pretty clear that he has some lingering trauma from that experience.

Garnet says that Amethyst will be back before you know it, and she’s right, because Amethyst’s gemstone starts to glow almost immediately. When she regenerates, however, something’s obviously wrong — she has legs and feet where her arms should be. Garnet points out that her regeneration was too fast, and Amethyst shrugs it off, pretending like she’s fine with having foot-arms.

Amethyst cartwheels away and finds a tunnel made by the Slinker. As they search, Steven comments on how “interesting” her new form is, and that he didn’t know Gems could come back that different. Amethyst gets increasingly annoyed by his questions and by pretending she created this form on purpose. When he asks why four legs, her response is “‘Cause I like walking!”

Garnet says that Amethyst rushed her regeneration and that she should’ve taken her time. “Like Pearl?” Steven asks, and Garnet agrees.

Of course, comparing Amethyst to Pearl is exactly the right thing to hit her buttons, and she rants about how they want her to be more like Pearl, with her “clean room with no monsters in it!”

She also reveals she has a giant ear hidden by her hair. Amethyst actually does have smaller ears normally but they’re usually not seen.

The Slinker appears out of nowhere and poofs Amethyst again. Garnet thinks this is a good opportunity for her to create a better form, but groans when she sees Amethyst come back almost immediately.

This time, Amethyst’s form is a parody of Pearl. Garnet facepalms.

An off-kilter version of Pearl’s theme plays as Amethyst continues her Pearl imitation. Garnet ignores her and tries to keep the focus on the mission. Amethyst complains that all the rocks are different sizes and she must organize them. “Didn’t anyone tell nature how I want it to look?” Steven giggles, and Garnet tells him not to encourage her.

“But I need encouragement, Garnet! I need everyone’s constant approval!” While this is certainly true of Pearl, it’s also fairly true of Amethyst as well, even though she doesn’t like to admit it. This actually gives some insight into one of the reasons they clash so badly — that Pearl’s insecurity reminds Amethyst of the parts of herself she doesn’t like (and probably vice versa).

Steven asks her some more questions from the quiz, which she answers in character as Pearl.

Garnet has had enough, telling Amethyst she’s made her form ridiculous. This is a good example of how Garnet is more willing to show emotion post-Jail Break.

Amethyst: You wanted me to be more like Pearl, and now I am!

Garnet: Pearl would have taken a regeneration seriously!

Amethyst: What do you care? My form is my business!

Garnet: It’s my business when it affects the strength of the team!

Amethyst’s assertion that her form is her business is interesting. She’s not wrong, but this principle of bodily autonomy clearly didn’t come from Homeworld.

Of course, while Amethyst’s form should indeed be her choice, the real problem here is that she’s being self-destructive. Garnet’s comment about the strength of the team is not going to help with that, either.

As Amethyst and Garnet fight, the Slinker grabs Amethyst and poofs her again. Steven catches her gem. “Is it weird I’m getting numb to this?” No, not really.

Amethyst, in response to Garnet’s comment about strength, has reformed herself with one giant, beefy arm and leg. Garnet objects that the form is not sustainable. It seems that the further off the chosen form is from a Gem’s “base” form (presumably, what they emerged with in the kindergarten), the less stable that form is.

Future Vision

It’s worth noting that Amethyst resembles Jasper for a second when making her new “beefy” form. In S3, Amethyst will develop a complex over the fact that she can’t beat Jasper and that her “natural” form should have been larger, if she hadn’t been “overcooked.” It’s possible that the seeds are already planted here, considering she was beaten by Jasper offscreen in The Return.

[collapse]

Amethyst runs off to fight the monster herself. When Garnet and Steven catch up, they find her trying to squeeze it with her huge, beefy arm. Garnet tries to get her to stop, but Amethyst protests: “You wanted me to be stronger, I’m doing it! I’m being what you want!”

Amethyst’s arm loses its shape and deforms in much the same way as she was starting to lose her form after being cracked in An Indirect Kiss. “Well, what do you want? Just tell me and I’ll do that!”

This reinforces something we already know from earlier episodes such as Tiger Millionaire: even though Amethyst pretends she doesn’t care what anyone thinks, she’s actually quite desperate for approval and wants to please the rest of the team, to the point that she’s willing to swallow her feelings and sacrifice her own well-being.

I think this also relates to Amethyst’s changing role on the team. Before Rose’s death, she was the youngest of the Gems and acted like a child, as seen in Story for Steven. It seems likely that Rose didn’t place much responsibility on her. Now, Amethyst is expected to be responsible for Steven’s sake, not to mention the growing uncertainty caused by the return of Gems from Homeworld. It’s no wonder she’s having a hard time grappling with these new expectations.

Garnet points out that she needs to figure this out for herself. “She can’t! She doesn’t want to think about herself!” says Steven.

He’s right, of course. This kind of self-examination is difficult for Amethyst, and the reason why she was uncomfortable with the Crying Breakfast Friends quiz. This is the first time she’s reformed since the new expectations placed on her with Steven becoming a Crystal Gem, and she can’t deal with the resulting pressure, so she chooses not to think about it — either by choosing careless joke forms, or by asking others what she should do.

Steven’s insight here makes me wonder how much this is true of him as well. He tends to relate to Amethyst easily and their problems often occur in parallel. Steven’s self-sacrificial streak is another form of not wanting to think about yourself.

Anyway, Amethyst gets eaten by the Slinker, causing her to poof again. Garnet punches it to free her gem.

Back at the house, Steven is despondent because Amethyst has taken four hours to regenerate. Pearl is shocked, since she never takes that long. Garnet wonders if she’s been too hard on her. (I really don’t think she has, except maybe for her ill-placed comment about the strength of the team. Amethyst needed to be called out on her behavior here.)

Amethyst starts to reform. “Everyone be supportive!” says Steven. As soon as he sees her new form, though: “Aww, you barely changed!”

This is probably my favorite of Amethyst’s forms. It’s simple, has a great color scheme and fits her personality.

Garnet declares the form to be perfect. Pearl is pleased that Amethyst fixed the sagging shoulder strap that was bothering her. It’s interesting that after an entire episode of Amethyst being pissed that Garnet wanted her to be more like Pearl, she actually changed something about her form that was annoying Pearl instead of doubling down on it.

The other Gems are proud of Amethyst for choosing a great new form, and they envelop her in a group hug. Amethyst protests that they still need to go find the Slinker. “No, it’s hug time!” says Steven. (The Slinker is never followed up on again and is presumably taken care of offscreen.)

Amethyst scowls, but as the episode irises out, she smiles.

Amethyst has one of the best character arcs in the series, and her episodes all tend to be solid. This is another good one. Amethyst’s low self esteem and self destructiveness is sad but relatable. There are also some solid visual gags with Amethyst’s poorly chosen forms. Amethyst’s new form is great, too.

Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! Do it for her! One of the all-time best episodes of Steven Universe: Sworn to the Sword.